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49 Voices: Hunter McGovern of Anchorage

Hunter McGovern of Anchorage (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Hunter McGovern in Anchorage. McGovern is a member of Doctors Without Borders, and just got back from a 7-month assignment in Nigeria.

Listen now

MCGOVERN: I was coming back from a long road-trip and a trip to Thailand and really was set on having Thanksgiving with my mom and sisters here in Anchorage. And so I, in Seattle, got my truck, got it started again and started this trip back to Anchorage — and I had pretty much two days to do it in the end of November. And through lack of sleep and driving a lot, I drove all the way back.

About halfway through that trip, there was only radio station that was available, and I was just full volume to keep myself going and awake, and it was Canadian Public Broadcasting. And there was an interview on there with a woman, and she just talked about her experiences, I believe it was in Central African Republic. And that little bit really sold me.

I got home in time, had dinner with my family and told my mom after that I was gonna sign up for Doctors Without Borders, and she looked at me and said, “Good luck with that.”

This area was already subject to periodic times of famine based on droughts and whatnot. So you take a very fragile population and then you add a conflict in their area, and the result is widespread famine and kinda disparity.

The ability to be very flexible and adjust constantly to changing situations… yeah, that was very helpful. You know, one moment you’re building a hospital and the next moment you’re fixing a Toyota (laughs).

The more places I see, the more I realize how wonderful me and my friends and my family have it. You can get a job, you can make pretty good money, the water’s clean, the air’s clean. It’s beautiful. The people are generally really nice. I’m sure if you own a car, you’ve broken down at some point on the sound of the road, and when you’re in Alaska, people stop and offer you help. That’s not the case everywhere.

A lot of times our worldview is very… almost accepts our reality as that to everyone’s reality, and how good we have it and how nice this place is.